Saturday, January 22, 2022

Jim Gowans: 2012 was challenging year for Debswana

Debswana Diamond Company says 2012 was one of the company’s most difficult years although it managed to weather the storm with effective strategic planning and the dedication of employees.

The company, however, indicated in its 2012 Report to Stakeholders launched on Wednesday that it managed ‘to pull together and maintain’ profitability through a raft of measures helped by Anglo American specialists.

Debswana was hit by the worst disaster in history when a slope failure at Jwaneng mine claimed the life of a miner. The incident delayed production and affected carat output at the mineÔÇöwhich is the world’s largest producer of gem diamonds. The incident was the second fatality as one contractor was hit by lighteningÔÇömaking this the highest number of fatalities in the last four years.

“This year, we experienced a production slowdown as a result of challenges with earthmoving equipment and treatment plants at our operations, as well as Jwaneng mine’s shutdown for four weeks in July,” the company said in Report to Stakeholders.

“A reduced output from Jwaneng mine occurred due to the slope failure incident in which our colleague tragically lost his life,” added Managing Director, Jim Gowans.

After the disaster, the company suspended mining from the pit for seven weeks to ensure ‘the safety of all employees’ and to allow the Department of Mines to carry out an investigation. The outcome of the investigations has been kept secret.

Gowans revealed that a ‘near-hit’ reporting system was implemented at all its operations during the year under review and it has shown a significant reduction in the number of accidents and incidents across all operations.

However, the lack of demand provided time for the company to focus on other targets to help navigate the muddy waters. The company bolstered its asset management plan to improve the availability of physical assets with the benefits expected to come on stream in 2013.

“These events, coupled with relatively low third party demand, helped to increase our focus on achievable cost efficiencies in order to strengthen our financial performance,” added the company, which is a joint venture between De Beers and Botswana government.

According to Debswana, Orapa mine produced 12, 251 million tonnes of ore which were treated while 11, 089 million carats were recovered. Letlhakane mine produced 2, 220 million treated tones and 764 carats were recovered.

Damtsha mine saw 1, 387 tonnes treated while 191 carats were recovered. Jwaneng mine’s production of tones treated were 6, 015 and carats that were treated in 2012 were 8, 172.

A total of 20, 22 million carats were recovered from the four operations. The figure however was from the 22, 89 million recorded in 2011. Debswana however remains a major player in the private sector as it continues to boost local companies through procurement. It spent P521 million on citizen-owned companies, P2. 981 million with Botswana based companies and also P195 new citizen-owned assessed and registered into the supply chain.

Equally, as part of its commitment to its employees, Debswana’s training accounts to large component of the yearly budget. For the year under review, P88.7 million was spent on training employees, up 52.9 percent from 2011.

“This training goes hand in hand with the high performance organisation strategy which the Company is working towards,” said Gowans.

According to Debswana, Cut 8 project is at an advanced stage. The infrastructure development project has been completed on schedule. Cut 8 will prolong the Jwaneng mine life and the company is exploring Cut 9. He added that the modular tailings treatment plant project in Jwaneng commenced also in 2012, procurement of long lead items performed in the last quarter of 2012.

“Following the successful completion of the Morupule Coal Mine expansion project a three months technical completion test began in November 2012,” he said.

He also revealed that the Debswana mines have third party certified safety and environment management and successful audits were completed in the period under review. Gowans added that the company improved safety efforts by implementing a near hit reporting system at all its operations during the year.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper